Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success. -Henry Ford
Ah yes….working together….I can’t help but be reminded of the the preschool song “the more we get together the happier we’ll be”. Working together, planning together, and achieving goals together is a beautiful thing. It is not, however, something that is always done easily and it does require planning and effort.
We have been diligently working and planning together in our class. Besides working on instructional goals, we are also working on our soft skills. It is never too soon to work with children on their “EQ”…emotional intelligence quotient. These are the cluster of personality traits, social graces, communication, language, personal habits, friendliness, and optimism that characterize relationships with other people. They complement hard skills. Learning these skills now help transition them into adolescence and adulthood. In today’s world, soft skills relate to a person’s ability to interact effectively with coworkers and customers and are broadly applicable both in and outside the workplace.
That being said, it takes time and planning to build community in a classroom full of egocentric 5 year olds. We have been working on planning our day, working together on activities and projects as well as sharing with each other our completed work and work in progress. This involves listening to each other, offering praise and helpful suggestions (helpful being the operative word). This takes modeling and practice!
This week, we shifted from writing the plan for our day on a PDF on our iPads to actually typing it in the Notes app. This has been very efficient and the kids feel “grown up” making a real list by typing. They have their 5 “must do’s” listed on the Smart Board and they choose the order in which they want to complete them. Currently, I am assigning the apps, but soon they will be choosing which apps to use to complete the assignment. The picture cues to the right assist them if they forget as they move through the day. Kids are working individually, in pairs, or small groups by their own choice all throughout the day.
Here is a sample of the word work created on this particular day in the Magnetic Alphabet app. The kids take a screen shot when finished and upload to Showbie for me to check later.
Here are 2 Pic Collage examples from a different day using the vocabulary words “mitten” and “cold”.
Once the students draw their pictures in Drawing Pad app, they save to their camera roll and upload into Pic Collage. They then type the sentence using the vocabulary words for each picture. They save it and upload to Showbie.
This schedule allows for a lot of collaborative time with each other and with me. I am able to conference with children, assess, work with small groups and facilitate all throughout the day. Because students have many opportunities to work collaboratively and interact with each other, we can practice modeling those soft skills we are learning about each day.
By setting up the classroom environment to reflect the values of learning through choice and collaboration, students are able to learn valuable skills that will carry them into the future.
Today we will do exciting new things. Let’s get to it!